LBC, MMR, Jeni Barnett, an Early Day Motion, the Times, and, er, a bit of Stephen Fry…

February 10th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, dangers, jeni barnett, LBC, legal chill, MMR, regulating media, scare stories, stifling criticism | 155 Comments »

I thought since a few days have passed that I should let you know what’s happening with the slightly ridiculous LBC situation. If you skip to the bottom you will find a discussion on some mischievous activism which I think has great potential.

Since LBC unwisely threw their legal weight around to prevent you from being able to freely experience and ponder that astonishing 44 minute tirade against MMR, the inevitable has happened. The audio has been posted on a huge number of websites around the world, over 120 blogs so far are linking to the story, and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of people are talking and reading about the ignorance that Jeni Barnett exemplified in that worrying broadcast. It has been covered in the Times, and an Early Day Motion is being set down in parliament.

Read the rest of this entry »

Er, “help”. Legal Chill from LBC 97.3 and “Global Radio” over Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering

February 5th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in Global Radio, jeni barnett, legal chill, MMR, stifling criticism | 234 Comments »

[Update: recent developments are now available here, including an EDM in parliament and discussion in mainstream media]

[Update: links to transcripts and audio hosted elsewhere at bottom of post]

One more thing, since Stephen Fry excellently tweeted this post to his 8 billion followers (weirdly he wakes me up every morning) I’ve had to activate supercache to prevent the site from dying. This means your comments will be stored for later but can only appear intermittently, sorry about that, nice to have you, and do look around for the site for more educational moron-baiting entertainment.

LBC have instructed their lawyers to contact me.

Two days ago I posted about a 7th Jan 2009 broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves. This is important because it can cost lives, and you can read about the media’s MMR hoax here.

To illustrate my grave concerns, I posted the relevant segment about MMR from her show, 44 minutes, which a reader kindly excerpted for me from the rest of the three hour programme. It is my view that Jeni Barnett torpedoes her reputation in that audio excerpt so effectively that little explanation is needed.

LBC’s lawyers say that the clip I posted is a clear infringement of their copyright, that I must take it down immediately, that I must inform them when I have done so, and that they “reserve their rights”.

To me this raises several problems:

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Silence Dissent!

August 8th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, laws, stifling criticism | 19 Comments »

The CAM world meets a new all time low this week – even by their own standards – as the New Zealand Chiropractors Association threaten the New Zealand Medical Journal with legal action for criticising their ideas and practice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Appendix: Andy’s incredibly polite email to the Society of Homeopaths

October 21st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, stifling criticism | 58 Comments »

To my mind this is one of the most important parts of the story about the Society of Homeopaths bullying its critics: it’s the incredibly polite and courteous email that Dr Andy Lewis sent to the SoH after his hosting company received the first threatening letter from their solicitors. Read the rest of this entry »

A corporate conspiracy to silence alternative medicine?

October 20th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, homeopathy, stifling criticism | 45 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 20 2007

Let’s imagine that we live in an exotic parallel universe where I am able to use an amusing but trivial news event to illustrate a wider cultural and intellectual issue. Dr Andy Lewis runs a website called Quackometer: he criticised the Society of Homeopaths (Europe ’s largest professional organisation of homeopaths) in no uncertain terms. Read the rest of this entry »

A startling lack of critical self-appraisal

July 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, craig sams, hate mail, stifling criticism | 52 Comments »

One for the small print maybe, but I think this is culturally quite interesting, because to me it tells a small part of the story on how you can maintain a belief system by avoiding appraisal of your ideas.

As you will remember, Craig Sams, a confectionery millionaire, recently wrote an article which I suppose you’d have to describe as an “attack” on me. This was close to what I’m hoping for – which is an attack on my ideas – and I genuinely wish he’d engaged with any single one of my criticisms of McKeith and the wider nutritionism industry. As I have said many times: there’s nothing I like better than people engaging in a discussion about ideas, and criticising mine. If you haven’t read Sams’ article already I’d highly recommend it for sheer enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »

Stifling Debate – When Bloggers Bite Back

June 16th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, stifling criticism | 30 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 16, 2007
The Guardian

I like short stories with happy endings. Last week we saw how the mightily eminent pharmacologist Professor David Colquhoun (FRS) was having his witty and informative “Improbable Science” quackbusting blog quietly banished from the UCL servers.

He had questioned claims made by a herbal medicine practitioner called Dr Ann Walker over, for example, the “blood cleansing” properties of red clover pills (also a “cleanser of the lymphatic system”, apparently) and criticised her for making public statements about the benefits of vitamin supplements in an academic journal, without disclosing her role as spokesperson for
the Health Supplements Information Service, a lobby group for the multibillion-pound supplement pills industry. Walker complained.

Well, in fact her husband complained. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mighty David Colquhoun

June 9th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes of bad science, stifling criticism | 56 Comments »

[Update: Letter from Provost below]

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 9, 2007
The Guardian

I’ve always said you’d get a lot more kids interested in science if you told them it involves fighting – which of course it does. This week, for example, Professor David Colquhoun FRS – one of the most eminent scientists in the UK – has been forced to remove his quackbusting blog from the UCL servers where it has lived for many years, after complaints from disgruntled alternative therapists.

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Dr George Carlo responds to Andrew Goldacre

June 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity, hate mail, letters, references, stifling criticism | 34 Comments »

This post is only if you’re not bored of the rather trying electrosensitivity lobby. Here is a letter which has popped up all over the interweb, I assume it is genuinely from Dr Carlo, who is hawked about as a rather eminent figure, and not a fake created in an effort to smear him.
Read the rest of this entry »

What’s wrong with Dr Gillian McKeith PhD?

February 18th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, channel 4, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, stifling criticism | 312 Comments »

For years, ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith has used her title to sell TV shows, diet books and herbal sex pills. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has stepped in. Yet the real problem is not what she calls herself, but the mumbo-jumbo she dresses up as scientific fact, says Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre
Monday February 12, 2007
The Guardian

Call her the Awful Poo Lady, call her Dr Gillian McKeith PhD: she is an empire, a multi-millionaire, a phenomenon, a prime-time TV celebrity, a bestselling author. She has her own range of foods and mysterious powders, she has pills to give you an erection, and her face is in every health food store in the country. Scottish Conservative politicians want her to advise the government. The Soil Association gave her a prize for educating the public. And yet, Read the rest of this entry »